Electronic Arts attends to the oversaturation of the FIFA franchise with FIFA 11. Though, after a dismal outing with their World Cup iteration, FIFA 11 at least puts the series back in the direction of improvement rather than irrelevancy.
In general, FIFA 11 isn’t a huge departure from FIFA 10 or World Cup South Africa. The return of Be A Pro mode (start as a reserve and work to joining the squad), online club play, and the career mode should keep longtime fans sucking at the teat that is FIFA 11. It keeps giving back in terms of replay value, but the improvements aren’t astounding when matched side-by-side to the past incarnations.
Personality+ is the bright spot as its addition should catapult the series towards having more intelligent computer AI to compete against, while also playing alongside better teammates. It’s not 100 percent lifelike as there are times when defenders are attacking too much on occasions when they would be better pressed to pass, but for the most part, the computer AI has received an upgrade in comparison to the past two titles in the FIFA series. The thrill of competing against a defender as they attempt a tackle to steal the ball back in their favor has never felt more authentic than it has in FIFA 11. Plus, smarter goalkeepers are welcomed with warm arms to stave off shots that should be blocked with ease.
Returning from last year’s iteration is the ability to join with friends online to play as a club. The big change is the ability to play 11v11 matches online, so it’s integral to find a superb goalkeeper to have in goal, along with strikers, defenders and the like. The online leveling system also returns but it’s not up to form as it should’ve been. Too many times I would lose points for a victory since, often, I would relegate myself to a defender and focus less on scoring and the finer points of the game (jockeying, position, possession, etc.). It’s still incredibly fun online, but those who aren’t as talented as others will eventually scratch their head on why they are wasting their time receiving negative marks for playing well, even in defeat.
As usual, every passing year helps advance and evolve the graphics of the FIFA franchise and FIFA 11 doesn’t break the chain. New animations help push FIFA 11 towards the top of superb-looking sports titles. The player reactions to the ball on the field were often in tune with the speed of the game; there weren’t instances where they would jerk in the opposite direction or fumble over their own feet yet have the ball remain distinctly in front of them. In addition, the player models have been spruced up a plenty with better representations of their real-life counterparts. On the other hand, the crowds are still a letdown and need more concentration in the area of creating a better environment to play in.
While FIFA 11 is a step back in the right direction, there needs to be a substantial amount innovation and new gameplay additions the next time around if EA is going to stick with releasing 2-3 football titles a year. The only catch is that this is directly aimed at the hardcore crowd with a higher difficulty level, so casuals who are looking for a title focusing less on technical aspects and more on quick excitement may walk away disappointed.